–Former Eagles skipper slams coach for not quitting when the ovation was loudest
Former Super Eagles skipper, Austin JayJay Okocha was recently voted as the new Delta State FA boss.
In his first exclusive interview on assumption of office, the former PSG and Fenerbahce of Turkey star here unfolds his plans for football in Delta State.
He similarly airs his views on the current state of Nigerian Football which centers around the re-appointment of Stephen Keshi as the Eagles Boss. Okocha blasts the embattled Keshi for opting to swallow his vomit and also did not spare the Administrators of the game in the country for Nigeria’s downward trend in the game… Interview By David Meshioye.
Accept our congratulations on your appointment as Delta State FA boss.
Thank you David
You once told me you will never become a coach but you seem to have flair for the administrative aspect of the game. What prompted your move?
It is my hunger and desire to give back to the people and community that made me who I am today. As a former footballer , I don’t want that passion to die. As an ex international, I think it won’t be a bad idea to give my best to the grassroots. More importantly, I believe that I have a lot to give that is why I decided to go for that position.
It’s a big shoe you are stepping into Jay Jay, considering the positive impact Pinnick Amaju had on football in Delta State. What plans do you have to ensure your name is written on the sands of time?
I know a lot is expected of me as an ex-international. There will be challenges here and there but I am willing and ready to work had to surmount them all. My desire is to meet the expectations of Nigerians and not just Deltans. I am up for it because it is important for someone to have a target than not to have any target at all. I am up for the challenge and hopefully I can meet up to people’s expectations. The most important thing here is to go there with my ideas and plans and give it my best.
What will you need to have a successful tenure especially as some of your delegates kicked against your appointment?
Well, I think it is all about being creative and bringing in something new that will turn the game around positively. It is all about having a good structure in place; a structure that will improve the game for the benefit of the people and youth. My aim is to have a solid structure that will help lure corporate bodies to support our vision. Once there is a good structure in place, it won’t be a difficult task to have companies identify with the FA. This is what I am trying to put in place to ensure that people can key in to before bringing in the private sector. I think it will be a victory for Deltans.
Nigeria’s national team seems to have lost its fear factor in Africa having missed out of 2015 AFCON. Does it bother you that Nigeria is ranked 7th in Africa?
I think the downward trend our football is experiencing now goes beyond the players as people speculate . I know the way we have been administering our football is nothing to write home about. I think we have to be honest with ourselves if really we want to correct our mistakes.
That means Nigerians can look forward to you eventually becoming NFF President in the coming years.
I think it is all about a step at a time. I just have to focus on the job ahead of me. It is a task which I know won’t be easy but I have no doubts I will succeed, considering the pedigree of the board members. Honestly, Amaju laid a very good foundation for me and I know my board members are men of integrity who know their onions in football administration. With our collective ideas, I strongly believe we will make it happen. Our biggest problem is that we are not being honest with ourselves. It is time we stand up for the truth and be bold to call a spade a spade. We cannot blame the players totally for Nigeria’s absence from AFCON 2015, rather we should change the way we administer our football. It is imperative we tell ourselves the truth that football is not being developed in this country.
The issue of Coach Stephen Keshi comes into question here; pundits have faulted NFF deliberate delay to determine Keshi’s future; a scenario that has kept Nigeria football at a standstill. What is your take on this?
Well , a lot of people still wonder why Keshi’s future is yet to be decided by the NFF board. Maybe the board is taking its time before coming out with a concrete decision on Stephen Keshi. I think Nigerian football must move on and the earlier the FA decide on Keshi’s fate, the better for our football.
As a friend and former teammate, would you have advised Keshi to quit after Nigeria missed out of AFCON 2015?
Honestly, we have to commend Stephen Keshi for all that he did for the country by winning the 2013 AFCON in South Africa but failing to qualify Nigeria for AFCON 2015 really dented his image a little bit. He is my close friend but the truth is that he waited too long to quit the stage when the ovation was at the loudest. He should have moved on long ago with his career rather than wait till now. He did so well as a manager, winning AFCON and taking Nigeria to the World Cup, but I maintain that failing to make it to the Nations Cup dented his image a bit. In such situation; I think he should have just quit and moved on.
Player’s commitment has also been touted as one of the reasons for Super Eagles downward trend in Africa. Do you subscribe to this?
I believe every player invited to represent Nigeria really want to give his best, however situation can affect play and you don’t get to give your best to your country. I think Nigeria’s future is still bright if we consider the U-17, U-20 and U-23 national teams. All we need do now is to restructure our football and learn from our past mistakes by putting our football house in order. If we can do this, then our football will bounce back into reckoning in no time.
Nemanja Matic’s form has confined John Obi Mikel to the bench at Chelsea . Do you think Mikel should quit the bridge and enjoy regular football elsewhere?
Things like that happen in football where a teammate is doing better in your position, you don’t quit, but keep fighting and wait for your opportunity to come. I don’t think Mikel should quit Chelsea, he should keep on working hard and wait for his time.